NaNoWriMo I’m Going With The Flowowowow

I like making quick spur of the moment decisions, in case you hadn’t noticed with my last project (please, check out my soundcloud bits on the side or click HERE to listen to my mental health podcasts for mind!) HOWEVER I’m now doing something else entirely out there. Some of you may think ‘Nat, for gods sake, what are you doing.’ And you’d be entirely right. What possessed me to decide to take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? And what the hell am I doing back in the UK?

Ok, so calm down. Let me answer the latter for you. I’ve just had the most incredible three months of my life. I’ve been an English Language teacher for refugees in Serbia. I met the most incredible students and entirely motivated and passionate individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. I did not want to stop, and I did not want to leave them. But life has other callings, sadly. Firstly, my bank account started screeching at my in my nightmares and told me I needed to get a job to support myself, which sadly could not happen abroad nor in my volunteering experience for various reasons. Secondly, my family like to bother me every five minutes and criticise what I’m doing or subtly hint that they would prefer me to be doing something else (doesn’t everyone’s family do this?). And finally, I am unwell. Quite, unwell. So it was about time I got home to refresh myself, find some job to give me some money even if it isn’t as rewarding as teaching English to refugees, and make my family happy (for now).

So while I’m bed bound recouperating on a tonne of tablets I can barely pronounce, unable to eat, barely able to sleep, staring blankly out of my bedroom window wondering what happened to how awesome my life was before I came back to the UK, I’m going to write a novel. Now, I should be looking at jobs. In fact, I’ve actually had job offers, and have got so cold feet about them I’ve been unsure as to whether to take them. But I figure, I’ll leave that for when I’m feeling my proper self again. To be a boss, you just need to be better. So far my diet of soggy cornflakes, tomato soup and plain pasta isn’t exactly making me feel or look the part for scoring some mother of a graduate job. So, I’ll stick to my passions to stay as motivated as possible during this dreary existance. Writing.

I won’t lie, my mental health since being home and being this ill has been questionable. I’ve barely spoken to my family, and I’ve barely smiled or laughed (also because it physically hurts to do so) and for the first time in a very long time, I’ve felt pained and sad. Which is not good at all. But I won’t let myself feel too guilty about it. My body needs time, and it needs to rejuvenate and recuperate, and it’s ok to feel a bit down and sad when my bod is feeling so gross. So, I’m writing a novel during the space of the month, for the banter, and also because my younger brother told me I should write a book because all I do is write and I have virtually nothing else to do with my life now (apparently I’m even good at it, but the claim is questionable, considering the only things he has ever read of mine have been funny children’s stories).

So, what is my novel going to be about? Well, of course, all about mental health. With a twist. It wouldn’t just be a normal book with me, obviously. I don’t do normal. I’m not very normal. In fact, aside from my younger brother telling me to write a book, my younger sister told me I should become a unicorn hairdresser “because working for a shop is what normal people do and you’re not a normal person, Nat.”. Touche. If I wasn’t aware of that before, I am now. I digress. The book is called ‘Mindfulness for the Utterly, Ridiculously, Positively, Undoubtedly Useless’, because I’m so, so useless. Like I literally am probably one of the most useless human beings any of my mates know, for sure. Not only that, but being useless and suffering with mental health issues do not go hand in hand. You need to be able to manage it, and not be useless towards it. Why do I not take part in intense yoga sessions every day and meditate every other minute? Drink avocado chicken smoothies and thank nature for blessing me with the autumn leaves and take baths in the wind? I just don’t. I just simply, get lazy, and would binge watch Corrie in bed if I’m sad and eat biscoff biscuits. And you know what, I’ve come to realise in my time away from home, that it’s totally ok. It is totally ok to not be so great. It is even totally ok to deal with it in that way sometimes. t is ok that I am not perfect. But have I been managing my mental health in other ways? Why is it without the down facing dog pose I’ve been able to be happy? How have I come accustomed to managing my happiness, and how have I been thinking differently that has been positively impacting my mental health?

And so, there you have it. I’m writing a novel all about how you are entitled to happiness and can still be happy even if you are not some rainbow guru. It might even be a little bit funny if my bizarre humour comes through clear enough. The point is, don’t beat yourself up for not being on form with stereotypical mindfulness when you suffer with low moods. Let’s see how this goes, and let’s see if this even makes sense. It’s just for a bit of fun, but I’ve got a word count target and everything. If the amount I write in these blog posts continues I’ll for sure have it done within the month…Screenshot 2017-11-01 12.14.50

Stay Smiling,

Natter-tat-tatter

 

Advertisements

The Ultimate Mental Health Handbook

And so, here is the end with my podcast journey. (If you didn’t know, I’ve been podcasting all about mental health for 10 days!) Quite frankly, I never want to touch social media again after being on it so much for 10 days! I may just have to take a bit of a break! I want to say, yet again, a massive thank you to everyone that got involved with this project (and yet to get involved, as yes, there will still be a few more things uploaded in the coming days!) You have all made me so proud, and not only that, but from what I have seen and heard in the last ten days, and everything that I’ve seen in social media, I have every hope and belief that the good fight will be won one day. I love you, forgive you, and understand all of your quirks and irrational moments. There is no love like self-love, but the love I’ve felt and the love being spread in the past 10 days has left me speechless and getting all emotional. Everyone that has got involved is an absolute force. I’d like to also thank my sick podcasters that chatted to me all week long for hours all about mental health to get the discussion going. Even if this helps one person, this will all have been worth every single moment. Stay tuned as the whole podcast is up for review on iTunes to make listening a little easier. And finally, here are some really useful links!:
 
FIRSTLY: IF YOU’D LIKE TO DONATE, DONATE: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/wordsonawhim
 
Check out my blog for more bits n bobs: https://wordpress.com/view/wordsonwhim.wordpress.com
 
Supporting and understanding/volunteering:
 
Men and Mental Health:
#dontbottleitup
 
Narcotics and Mental Health (for addiction help and education):
https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline (addiction in combination with mental health hotline)
 
Someone To Talk To:
 
https://www.7cups.com/ (online counsellors)
 
Koko App for iOS – I worked with Koko when they began to develop the app, and it is still one of the best ways to keep on track of your mental health. It’s an anonymous, super positive advice app where it trains you to be positive about situations as well as providing positive ‘there is always a way’ advice to your own situations.
 
https://www.relate.org.uk/ (more online counsellors, I have specifically used Relate in the past and they really helped with some of my darker moments.)
 
http://www.turning-point.co.uk/mental-health/services-for-you/talking-therapies.aspx (I was also a turning point CBT user earlier this year, and believe it was an aid in getting back onto the right path!)
 
Even if it’s just saying it out loud to yourself, writing it down, telling a friend, a cuddly toy, or a family member – saying it out loud is the first step into admitting something isn’t right, which brings you closer to being diagnosed and seeking help.
 
If you are a University student, you should have a wellbeing leader for the faculty, or for the uni, disability support ALSO deal with mental health issues, please do not forget this! They will check up on you, and see fit that the right support is in place so that your journey can continue.
 
Mindfulness:
 
Forest App for iOS (if you didn’t see me rave about this where were you?! blocks all social media for a while and grows a tree for charity)
 
Headspace (online and app) – These guys were my godsend. Absolutely could not recommend this enough.
 
The Book of Happiness – Something I made whilst in my 2nd year of uni, a book where I write down the positive parts of my day, even if I’ve had a crap day, to try and pull out the best bits is all worth it to make you realise things are ok. Next time you feel a bit crap, give it a look through.
 
Hobbies are vital. Hence the ukulele, writing, reading, belly dancing, baking and constant obsession with exploring all kinds of music. Take the things you love doing, and do more of it, and double that! When you feel a bit crap, resort to something that is connected to making you feel happy.
 
Exercise is proven to help, even just a walk somewhere or to refrain from taking public transport unless you have to.
 
Things to make you feel better about yourself and your surroundings:
 
Surround yourself by positive people, and things that make you happy (and purge the people who make you feel bad in yourself, or judge the things that make you happy. Those are friends not worth having.)
 
Tell a friend. I know it’s a habit to think you’re a burden or get on people’s nerves, but honestly, I’d rather a friend came to me and told me if they felt they really needed someone there in that moment, or if you are concerned for your wellbeing or are having dark thoughts than to never know.
 
The Love Yourself List – something off the blog which will get recalled, when feeling especially self-conscious in yourself, write down a list of all the things you don’t like about yourself. Then try as best as you can to write down the positives to each of those things.
 
Allow yourself the odd indulgence. I have a treat fund in my bank account (just don’t go overboard!)
 
To keep track:
 
Write down when you have panic attacks/bad spells/episodes. Helps diagnosis.
 
Keep a sleep tracker to monitor when you wake up, what state your body is in during being asleep, how deep your sleep is. Helps diagnosis. Also good for tracking progress with medication and therapy, and whatever coping mechanisms you fancy trialling out and seeing what works for you.
 
Keep a note of when you have your medication. Use a medication reminder if you have to. Especially for when you plan on weening yourself off the medication or to monitor if the medication is actually working for you in case you need to trial another one.
 
When you just don’t quite know what to do anymore, or understand what is going on with your mind:
 
https://www.samaritans.org/ (dark thoughts helpline and emergency contact)
 
There is ALWAYS another option. I hope I’ve helped. Time to take a break from social media for a while, phew! Happy World Mental Health Day everybody, stay smiling. X

Men and Mental Health, and the Other Podcasts In-Between.

My blog actually has a number of posts set to ‘private’. Sometimes I just like to go through them, because documenting my mind in those times actually helps me to see exactly how far I’ve come, even when I sometimes feel like I haven’t progressed at all. You know, the one that scared me though, was this:

“I cried when I got home. I think that says it all really. I’m no good at lengthy introductions to a class of new people on demand.

All I could think of in that space of time was “I can’t wait to hide.”” – October 2014

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read that I got absolute chills. I remember the exact encounter. I have that memory like it was yesterday, I couldn’t believe I’d even documented it. It may read pathetic, and childish if you will. But I remember every sweaty little moment itching to just run home the second that introduction in that class was over and escape being around people I didn’t know. Which is absolutely something that never happens to me at all anymore! I thrive from getting to know new people!

But I’m pointing this out here, in relation to my podcasts. You see, I write this blog, open up about what I’ve been through and decided to do this project, because that girl in 2014 sat in that seminar room pooping her pants over saying her name and being questioned about it, would have felt over the moon if she found a bunch of podcasts discussing mental health. To even properly talk to anyone about it in that time was alien. I even hated my first counsellor, I thought she was super Freudian and intrusive. I couldn’t even process what was happening to me, because I’d spend so many days locked in my room in a fit of anxiety wishing I could just puff up into a ball of smoke and not feel like that anymore.

I’m making podcasts each night from the 1st to the 10th of October for World Mental Health day, having amazing discussions with some interesting and informed people all about mental health. The first three have already been released! What you waiting for!?

Men and Mental Health with Matt – Podcast 3

And if you wanna know more about what I’m doing and why, check out my last post here.

In the first couple podcasts I did with Luke…

…We chatted about supporting and understanding. Which was great, because it meant hearing from the ‘other’ person’s perspective, the helper, the support network, you know. The pea to your pod. The fish to your chips. And it was nice hearing that someone could be so supportive and understanding of what someone is going through, and focus on ways in which not only him and his ex-partner could work through their health and happiness, but solve a bunch of issues within the relationship.

However, in today’s podcast with Matt, we focused on men. I wanted to get someone’s perspective of being a young guy, and living in a world where suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. Not only that, but whether the stereotypical hunky man image and sadly at times, an expectation, affects the actions and mental health of young men.

All the discussions are all done barely scripted. Just casual conversations with people about life, to see different perspectives and be open about one another’s opinions in the hope of understanding the world of mental health a little better. And hey, hopefully, reach out to those that don’t quite know what to do with their heads right now.

Do enjoy the next few days! Don’t forget to donate, don’t forget to read up, and don’t forget to keep up with all my social media platforms if you want to keep in the loop!

Stay Smiling,

Nat

Going Mentally Mindful For Mind

So a lot of you know the basis of my story, and have probably seen me go on about mental health and mental health awareness on my Facebook page and my blog. But why do I do it? I do it because when my mental health journey kicked off, it became a big part of my life that still to this day I have to maintain and control. It’s a part of me, I have struggled shaking off, time and time again. But over time, I’ve learnt to accept that it’s a part of who I am. My experience with anxiety, panic attacks, and recently my depressive relapse spell, has shaped the person I am today, in both good and bad. The truth is, life just isn’t about the things that haven’t even happened yet. They’re about things that have already happened, and dealing with them in the present. After all, you can’t change what you refuse to confront. Simba found that out when he needed to scoot back over to Pride Rock and challenge his evil Uncle Scar, even with Hakuna Matata in his life (yes I did just say that). Happiness is just not linear. I’m slowly learning to accept, that I will go through huge ups and sometimes huge downs. But over this time, I’ve developed what a good friend of mine called recently, a toolbox, of things to get my feet back on the ground. Sometimes, I’m great at it. Sometimes, I’m useless at it. The latter I discovered when I relapsed over Christmas with a feeling of dread and distress, that had me contemplating my whole life.

I’m currently in one of the happiest places I’ve been in. My return to Belgrade was based on my happy connotations with the city and my time here, and my desire to help others who have also had times of distress, and have been in, undoubtedly, worse situations than I could ever contemplate. But in helping others, I’ve once again been reminded what real, wholesome love feels like, and I’m learning about life in yet another perspective.

So I thought the timing of this couldn’t be more in tune! Hear me out, let me introduce my idea. For those that don’t know me, I’m Nat, and I’m one of the most useless beings on the planet. I’m lazy, imperfect, like my bed, like a few drinks, and like eating burgers. And that’s ok. But in a bid to do what I should be religiously doing to prevent mental health relapse and inform others about ways in which we can allegedly keep our mental health at bay…I’m going to be going T-total, exercising around the gorgeous Ada Ciganlija each morning, leaving happiness notes across the city of Belgrade, eating ( a tonne ) of decent meals, attempting to get enough sleep, but most importantly, TALK. And the talking part is where the next exciting bit comes in…

So, I had this really mental idea right. Usually, I post a video or poem or post or whatever all over this blog and social media to raise awareness. But some of you already know a lot about my story. Some of you, are probably sick of hearing me ramble on. So this year, I’m going to be having discussions with some of the most influential, awesome, inspirational people in my life, along with (hopefully) some psychologically aware experts in a series of videos and podcasts over the next ten days. Different topics are going to be discussed in each video/podcast, so hopefully you can all check them out and feel extra aware about the depths of mental health, and why we should fight the stigma in simply opening up about what we have been through, how we feel, and what we have experienced as a result. And specifically, learning about the ins and outs of mental health you may not have thought about before!

This time round, I’m also posting this just giving page (CLICK ME!) so that if you happen to watch any of the videos/podcasts I’ll be making over the next ten days, it would be cool if you could also make a donation. I didn’t really know how much to set as a goal, or if this would even be a good idea, but hey! Why not! So please donate on the page. All of this is for Mind (Because when I first started having my panic attacks, I had zero clue what was going on or what even mental health issues were, until my Mom gave me some awesome booklets made by Mind which started my journey in learning more about mental health. I figured since they were so vital in educating me to begin with, why not make them a part of this!)

I hope all this makes sense (and doesn’t fall flat like a pancake!)  and as per, congratulations for getting to the end of this post. I’m aware I have a lot of words….

Oh, and of course…I need people to discuss things with! So if I haven’t already contacted you either before this post or in the next half an hour or so, pleaseeeeee don’t be shy and send me a message! I’d love to hear from you, the more, the merrier! Even if it was a short video of something you’d like to say and for me to share on one of my videos or podcasts – JUST DO IT! It would be really, really awesome.

So, here’s to the next ten days, and here’s to continuing to fight societies stigma regarding mental health and the expression of emotions.

Stay Smiling, Nat

 

#1in4

You know life sometimes is like a video game,

Each day comes as a new level, nothing is the same.

Aside from a secret underwater kingdom portal,

A chance anyone could take in a bid to be normal.

And I know where it is, I try getting through every time,

To try something new, I just want to see the excitement that’s behind.

But it doesn’t always last.

There’s something in my mind,

And it causes me to glitch,

And I’m not one of a kind.

I press X 61 times,

hoping for resolve,

Wild Dog mode comes on and my brain doesn’t do as it’s told.

To the point where I shout and tear everything apart,

Shit songs pour out my ears and I’m sent far away from the start.

The screen turns black.

I’m in curled in the corner and I’m crying,

Watching the countdown screen,

And here come the options to sort out my wiring.

Press circle they say to go off and cower,

Search for one way tickets to Canada for an hour.

Press triangle they say to go right off the mark,

Go out with no phone all alone in the dark.

Press square to cry until you can barely breathe,

So much you drift off into a sleep hoping when you wake the thoughts leave.

Press X to teleport to NHS tower,

Go see the wizard for potions for a happy hour.

Press UP and travel to mindful mountain,

And a parrot over 10 weeks will stop you from doubting.

Press R2 to talk to a friend,

Then constantly worry you’ll drive them round the bend.

Press R1 to commence battle with your twin,

About all the mistakes you’ve made only to never win.

And the final option,

Is to press nothing at all,

Countdown goes to zero,

Watch as the black screen falls,

And then you realise you can’t just press pause.

I’ve tried every option,

I even let the countdown get to 3,

Before things got in the way and I internally screamed what was the matter with me.

And everyone always says never wear your heart on your sleeve,

Because when you do they’ll take advantage of you,

They’ll grab your throat the second you’ll close your eyes just to sneeze.

Please tell me what’s so bad about being free,

To say how you feel if any of you have ever felt like me.

Anxiety depression and panic disorder,

When are we going to discover a new outlook is in order?

And I’m not just talking about guessing games when your heart is involved,

I mean when your life is on the line and nobody has been told.

I call bullshit and it makes me angry,

When somebody doesn’t show they cry because it looks more “manly”.

They say it costs us our identity and our pride,

If we ever bother to show what we have inside.

Well I say just take mine, and serve it up hot,

I’ll say exactly how I feel when I feel if it means I’m here, and that’s all that I’ve got.

One day I hope society can see the bravery,

Behind breaking free from emotional slavery.

I hope when someone says they are looking for a “man”,

The answer always is if that means I’m open and honest then I am.

So here is to being one of the 1 in 4,

And hoping that next time they tell you suicide is the number one killer of young men,

That it’s only to say there’s been a change in the score.

Saving our lives is more important than our prides.

Last thing we need is another death to suicide,

The more we talk about it the more we stop letting it slide.